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UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby johnny h » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:07 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Define 'seriously limited'! ;)
Lack of portability, low number of instances, little future proofing ;)
'Ancient DSP technology' it may be, but it doesn't prevent them from creating some remarkably powerful, accurate and superb-sounding plugin emulations. Plus, it provides a high degree of protection against piracy while simultaneously serving to maintain a large and loyal user base, and even encourage them to upgrade to extra or more powerful accelerator products.

Sounds like a very shrewd and effective business model to me.... :lol:
It doesn't "prevent" them from being able to run a couple of 2019 standard native quality plugins per core, but it certainly doesn't help! To my knowledge there are plenty of native plugins which haven't been reliably cracked that provide similar quality to UAD, yet don't rely on clunky hardware and allow vastly more instances to be used at once.

As a business model, I can't deny it makes them money, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone on the consumer side!
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby jellyjim » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:22 pm

I'm very surprised to hear the chips at the heart of the UAD engine are a bit long in the tooth! I wonder what their roadmap looks like with regards to upgrading the platform?

Of course, as you point out Hugh, the software that runs on the hardware is their real asset. That must be a big codebase and it wouldn't be a trivial task to migrate that anywhere.
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby desmond » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:42 pm

jellyjim wrote:I'm very surprised to hear the chips at the heart of the UAD engine are a bit long in the tooth! I wonder what their roadmap looks like with regards to upgrading the platform?

Anyone who jumped onboard with the original UAD1 basically knows exactly what happens - they run the hardware platform until it's incredibly outdated, and sales start to slow, then eventually introduce a new hardware platform that's more powerful, and requires everyone to buy new hardware, but still isn't that powerful compared to general purpose computers, and runs that until it's incredibly outdated, rinse and repeat.

It's a business model that's worked very well for them - they are the *only* powered plugin / DSP platform that survived when all the competition couldn't make it work, they are introducing ever more plugins at a somewhat dizzying rate, they can add DSP chips inexpensively into their other hardware as a significant value add, their plugins can't be pirated (and thus they maintain some desirable exclusivity), and their userbase consists of people who a) actually *buy* plugins, and b) have already invested heavily to get into the platform in the first place, so they are more likely to continue to buy UAD plugins.

jellyjim wrote:Of course, as you point out Hugh, the software that runs on the hardware is their real asset. That must be a big codebase and it wouldn't be a trivial task to migrate that anywhere.

Not so much. As I understand it, they code on/for regular systems, and then have a deployment system that compiles into the destination DSP code. To support new chips, you extend that deployment system to compile to the new format, and then theoretically it's "just" a recompile of the plugins to work on the new chips. (Of course, the reality is a little more complex, but the principle is there.)

I'm fairly sure there are newer Sharc chips that use the same basic code and instruction sets, but are simply more powerful, than the old ones UA still use for the UAD2 platform.

It's not like the UAD1 -> UAD2 translation where the hardware platform was completely new so they had to build a lot of new stuff from scratch - the old MPACT chip was a graphics processor, and quite different from the more general purpose Sharcs they are using now.

Basically, UA hold on selling the same old DSP hardware until the market literally stops buying them and sales slow down - at that point, they think about upgrading the hardware, as opposed to just adding more chips - which is much less expensive, and a lot easier.
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:45 pm

They are a bit long in the tooth, unquestionably, but DSP chips have always offered a lot of bang for the buck in their particular area of use and it doesn't surprise me that they are offering a useful degree of service long after their equivalently aged CPUs have disappeared off the radar. It is also true that native plugins can match UAD's for functionality and number of instances on modern machines. But their interfaces are as good as anyone's, very straightforward and effective to use and they give access to a marvellous set of plugins (inexpensive too if you choose your moment to buy).

For those of us who want to use them they're great and decent value for money. If you haven't bought in then that's fine too. You aren't short of alternatives nowadays.

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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby jellyjim » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:08 pm

Thanks all

Further research reveals to me that you're forced to download their entire library regardless of what you own! Urgh. Aggressive sales techniques or what?

But also terrible user experience if I can't hide the plug-ins I don't own. When or wherever I might select a UAD plug-in, will I always see those I don't own?

That'd be a deal breaker because for me it would be passion killer, so to speak, or at the very least an irritation ready to interrupt one's flow.
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby desmond » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:12 pm

jellyjim wrote:Aggressive sales techniques or what?

Or you could go from the angle of an "easy demo experience" if you like... :bouncy:

jellyjim wrote:But also terrible user experience if I can't hide the plug-ins I don't own. When or wherever I might select a UAD plug-in, will I always see those I don't own?

I don't know what your DAW is, but at least in Logic you can hide whatever plugins you like.
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby jellyjim » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:15 pm

desmond wrote:
jellyjim wrote:Aggressive sales techniques or what?

Or you could go from the angle of an "easy demo experience" if you like... :bouncy:

I have indeed seen that as the counter argument ;)

desmond wrote:
jellyjim wrote:But also terrible user experience if I can't hide the plug-ins I don't own. When or wherever I might select a UAD plug-in, will I always see those I don't own?

I don't know what your DAW is, but at least in Logic you can hide whatever plugins you like.

Yes Logic, good, of course. How about in the UAD Console software though?

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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:18 pm

The UAD software obviously knows about (and downloads) all of the plugins, because it allows you to demo the ones you don't already own.

I use a PCIe Quad card, rather than an Apollo, but I doubt it works any differently. I have all of the plugs (as NFRs) but I don't use them all and -- like you -- don't want hundreds of plugins cluttering things up in my DAW listings. So, I just copy the dlls of those I use into different directory locations that I then tell my different DAWs to use. That way I have a different set of plugins when I'm mastering, or editing, or mixing, or whatever, and only the ones I want or need are visible.

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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:22 pm

You can't hide them in the console (I've just checked) but the plugins are grouped by type so it's pretty quick to find the plugin you want. Personally I tend not to use plugins in the console, just comfort reverb if requested (which is trivially easy to set up).

On the demo side of things each time the software is upgraded (which happens quite frequently) the demo counters get reset to zero, so the demo terms are really quite generous.

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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby jellyjim » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:24 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:You can't hide them in the console (I've just checked) but the plugins are grouped by type so it's pretty quick to find the plugin you want. Personally I tend not to use plugins in the console, just comfort reverb if requested (which is trivially easy to set up).

Aren't the newer 'unison' plug-ins in the console only, or summink? no, maybe I imagined that
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:26 pm

The Unison plugins work as normal plugins in the DAW, but if you want to use them to colour your preamps while tracking then that's when you do the unison bit in the console. Other plugins like reverbs have a different insert point in the console. You can choose whether they affect the final recording or not. Personally I like to leave all such decisions till mixdown, not having the confidence in myself to commit earlier than that.

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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby jellyjim » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:26 pm

coolio, thanks gents
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby redlester » Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:13 pm

I use UAD (Apollo 8 Duo + Octo Satellite) with Ableton Live 10, and have found it's a great use for Ableton's "favourites" system in the browser.

Every time I buy a new UAD plugin (too often for my own good) I right-click it in Ableton and assign it to the Red colour. So all the ones I own are listed under red in the Favourites list. The rest are hidden away in a sub-folder out of sight until needed.

I see the hardware has recently shot up in price. I paid about £750 for my Satellite back in February, they are now over £1,000!
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby johnny h » Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:45 pm

redlester wrote:I use UAD (Apollo 8 Duo + Octo Satellite) with Ableton Live 10, and have found it's a great use for Ableton's "favourites" system in the browser.

Every time I buy a new UAD plugin (too often for my own good) I right-click it in Ableton and assign it to the Red colour. So all the ones I own are listed under red in the Favourites list. The rest are hidden away in a sub-folder out of sight until needed.

I see the hardware has recently shot up in price. I paid about £750 for my Satellite back in February, they are now over £1,000!
People find it easier to give money for "hardware", despite the fact that these ancient SHARC chips are cheap as hell and it can be just as expensive to develop native software.

The whole success is only partly to do with the quality of the plugins. Much of it is also about people's sunk costs into plugins and DSP hardware, mixed with regular "promotions" and "coupons" to nudge people into throwing more money at it.

But you know, if it works for people, fine - enjoy! Just, if you are starting out thinking what to buy, I'd strongly advise anyone to steer well clear of this system. Its Pentium III era technology they are selling here.
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Re: UAD Apollo min spec seems high given it's DSP anyway (quad core i7)?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:01 pm

johnny h wrote:The whole success is only partly to do with the quality of the plugins. Much of it is also about people's sunk costs into plugins and DSP hardware, mixed with regular "promotions" and "coupons" to nudge people into throwing more money at it.

Maybe it's just me, but you seem to have a nasty chip on your shoulder about UAD. It's as if you just resent their success for some reason. I can't quite fathom it out...

I don't see how the Sharc DSP tech, or the price of the raw chips, matters. It does what it needs to do. They make a profit from it... which enables them to invest in more plugin development. What's so wrong?

...if you are starting out thinking what to buy, I'd strongly advise anyone to steer well clear of this system.

Fair enough. I agree that there are a lot of excellent native plugins available that are as good (or maybe even better in some cases), and don't involve the cost and inconvenience of the DSP hardware. So yes, some thought should be entertained before deciding on which route to follow.

On the other hand, the Apollo Unison preamp thing can't be done with native plugins and is a significant part of the UAD appeal for many today.

Its Pentium III era technology they are selling here.

Yes... but so what? There are cheap-as-chips NE5534 op-amps in all manner of current analogue equipment, and they were invented way before the Pentium III. Oh the horror! :lol:

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